Kremlin 'Suspends' Use of Tartus Naval Base in Syria (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russia)


"Nezavisimaya Gazeta obtained these reports from military and diplomatic sources who participated in recent talks with Syria's official delegation. ... Naval groups from the NATO countries are already concentrated off the Syrian coast. The concentration of Russian ships would have been dwarfed by NATO's. 'Our naval base in Tartus will not support a military option. We cannot act militarily against countries supporting the Syrian opposition,' the Defense Ministry source said."


By Vladimir Mukhin


Translated By Casey Patrick Reilly


August 24, 2012


Russia - Nezavisimaya Gazeta - Original Article (Russian)

A change in tack in the wind?: Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and China State Councilor Dai Bingguo meet in Moscow, Aug. 21. At variance with reports coming from Western and Israeli media, Russian media reports, citing anonymous sources in the Russian Defense Ministry, are that there will be no build-up of Russian arms in Syria, and no use of Russia's base in Tartus.


RUSSIA TODAY VIDEO: The 'destruction of Iran' is behind Western stance on Syria, Aug. 25, 00:10:30RealVideo

Russia has suspended use of its naval base in Tartus, Syria. But it refuses to rule out using it in the future. In addition, the central principles of cooperation with Damascus in the military sphere have been set: Moscow will support the Assad regime primarily at the political level, intelligence and humanitarian spheres. There are no large weapons shipments planned. Nezavisimaya Gazeta obtained these reports from military and diplomatic sources who participated in recent talks with Syria's official delegation, which visited Moscow earlier in the week.


Thus it has now become clear why naval groups from the three fleets (Northern, Baltic and Black Sea) that had gathered in the Mediterranean unexpectedly broke up, and the General Staff has changed its plans to base the Northern Fleet in the Black Sea.


According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, there is still a chance of achieving Syrian national reconciliation, and therefore given the circumstances, military support for the Assad regime is not the main objective. In contrast to the West, which has begun actively arming the opposition, Russia has deliberately withdrawn practically all of its military forces from the Mediterranean. Thus the original format of the “Caucasus 2012” naval exercise [video below], in which a detachment of warships from the Northern Fleet consisting of three large amphibious ships [Ropucha class landing ships] - the Alexander Otrakovsky, the George Pobedonosets, and the Kondopoga - which visited Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiysk on August 11-12 and was to participate in the maneuvers in the coming weeks, has been changed.





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After the exercise and being resupplied, the ships could have continued to duty in the Mediterranean. Not anymore. Naval groups from the NATO countries are already concentrated off the Syrian coast. The concentration of Russian ships would have been dwarfed by NATO's.


“Our naval base in Tartus will not support a military option. We cannot physically act militarily against countries supporting the Syrian opposition,” the Defense Ministry source said.


He also denied media reports that allege naval personnel have been evacuated from Tartus due to a deterioration of the situation in western Syria. These was also confirmed at Black Sea Fleet headquarters, where Nezavisimaya Gazeta was told officially that “the situation in Tartus remains calm. The staff of our Logistics Station (as our military base in Syria is officially called - NG) continues to operate normally.”


It was also reported that, in accordance with an earlier approved plan, floating repair ship PM-138, based at Tartus, will be moved to Sevastopol at the end of September, and will be replaced by another vessel of the Black Sea Fleet. Meanwhile, the source declined to comment on information that the naval facility in Syria, which is under the operational control of the Black Sea Fleet, will soon stop providing warships with resources and material. He would also not confirm or deny reports that in the near term, Russian naval vessels plan to avoid the Logistics Station.


Sources in the Defense Ministry say that Moscow supports Damascus through intelligence - as well as with military and diplomatic means. In case of a deterioration of the situation in Syria, with the help of Military Transport Aviation, Moscow would have no trouble evacuating all of its personnel from the Logistics Station. As for civilians, the plan is to utilize MTA and Ministry of Emergency Situations aircraft, since Aeroflot stopped all flights to Syria on August 7. According to information from the Defense Ministry, logistics with Syria are already being handled primarily by the Russian Air Force.

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“Russia doesn't interfere with the situation in Syria. And it is especially opposed to the various security scenarios being prepared by the West against the country. For this reason, the fate of Russia’s military base will depend on how soon peace can be established in Syria. It is hoped that President Bashar Al-Assad will manage to crush the irreconcilable armed opposition, demonstrate a spirit of compromise and sit down at the negotiating table with moderate political forces in the country that have taken a constructive approach,” Director of the Center for Analysis of the Global Arms Trade, Igor Korochenko, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta


"Russia has no clear plan to defend its geopolitical position in the Middle East” said Lieutenant-General Yuri Netkachov (ret.), a military strategist. “It seems that the situation here was allowed to drift. Moscow could provide more effective military assistance to the Assad regime, including in the military-technical field. After the fall of Assad, Russia will lose its only ally and partner in the region."



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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Aug. 26, 6:09pm]



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